Wentworth’s Pamela Rabe on fans and playing Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson

'I was excited they would consider me!'
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People can’t get enough of Pamela Rabe. And not just here, but around the world.

You can put that down to the fascination – and in some cases, obsession – with her Wentworth character, Joan “The Freak” Ferguson.

But not everyone loves The Freak. Canadian-born Pamela, who won the 2018 TV WEEK Logie Award For Most Outstanding Actress, says one of her siblings has stopped watching the show.

“One of my sisters found it too distressing seeing a family member do terrible things,” Pamela, 59, says.

Pamela Rabe as Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson in Wentworth.

The rabid love for Pamela’s character Joan will this year take her to a Wentworth fan event in the UK.

“They’re incredibly loyal and protective of Joan there,” Pamela explains. “I couldn’t be spending my time with a nicer group of people.”

Such is the level of fandom in the UK that some excited Wentworth fans yell “Joan!” at Pamela from across the street.

In general, however, she calls the fans “really respectful” – although, she adds, “that may be a version of fear”.

“Sometimes fans tremble a little when they meet me,” she says. “They get a bit scared. I think they’re shocked, because they say I’m so nice – which, of course, I am.” [Laughs]

‘The Freak’ is one scary inmate!

Pamela is astounded by the letters she gets from Wentworth fans in the armed forces in the US, from viewers in Moscow, Sweden and South Africa. They let her know what the world of Wentworth means to them.

“It’s got catnip in it, that show,” Pamela says of the acclaimed prison drama. “People get absolutely obsessed, they tell their friends about it, and the audience for the show just keeps growing.”

Pamela vividly recalls the moment she was offered the role of The Freak, who entered the series as the new governor of Wentworth prison in season two.

Pamela is thrilled by the show’s success.

Because she tends to be more of what she calls a “theatre animal”, Pamela doesn’t do a lot of television.

The timetables by which theatre and television are made are “completely incompatible”, she says. On this occasion, Pamela had a conflicting theatre role, but was able to get out of it.

“It felt like the stars had aligned,” she says of being asked to join Wentworth. “I was excited they would consider me a good fit for that show.

“I naively went in, but little did I know all the places I would go.”

Read more from our interview with Pamela, and the cast of Wentworth, in this week’s issue of TV WEEK.

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